The top 10 considerations when finding an aged care home

Making the decision for mum, dad or your loved one to enter aged care can be a difficult and emotional time, but once you’ve decided to take that step and look into different options, there are a number of things to consider. 

At Care360, we can help take the pressure off finding the right aged care home as we are the only independent service that provides reliable and trustworthy information to help you do so. It’s our mission to ensure you are making an informed decision when it comes to finding the right aged care community, so our experts have compiled this list of the top 10 considerations when finding an aged care home. 

1. Eligibility

As the Australian government controls the number of aged care placements, the transition to aged care usually begins with determining eligibility. This process is managed by My Aged Care and starts with an initial phone assessment. The assessment will determine eligibility for services such as home support, home care or residential care.

For those needing entry-level home support, they will be referred by My Aged Care to a Regional Assessment Service (RAS). For those who are seeking subsidised home care, residential care or flexible care, they will require assessment and approval for care by an Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).

During this assessment, a member of the team will come to the home and interview you and your loved one to determine whether they are able to continue to live independently and recommend care options. 

Following on from this assessment, you’ll be informed of whether or not you’re eligible for any government-managed services at which stage you can start to look for an aged care home that suits the needs of you and your loved one. 

2. Quality of care and lifestyle

When looking for the right aged care home, you’ll want to ensure you’re choosing a provider that promotes positive mental and physical wellbeing. Your loved one deserves to be well looked after and have friendly and respectful staff taking care of them. Aged care homes that make wellbeing factors a priority are likely to have happier and healthier residents. 

Food quality, activities that help promote mental wellness, keeping up with a regular routine, appropriate levels of movement and exercise are just some of the factors to consider. Asking about levels of medical care, compliance with safety and other licensing requirements is always recommended. 

3. Location

When finding the right aged care home for you and your loved one, an important factor to consider is its location. Having mum or dad close by will give you peace of mind that you can pop in if needed for health care reasons, to drop in with some of their favourite foods, to take them on an outing or to simply brighten their day. 

Studies have shown that residents in aged care who have regular visitors from friends and family tend to be happier and healthier, so making location a priority can be helpful when considering aged care options. 

4. Price and financing 

Aged Care facilities set their own pricing based on their location, accommodation options and additional services which are reflected in the fees. Some aged care homes have “extra service” status, which means they can provide higher standards of hotel-like services which includes specialised menus or higher quality rooms. There is also the option for additional service fees that can be bundled into a package such as hairdressing, paid TV services and more. 

Regardless of the offer, there are three types of fees: 

  • A basic daily fee, which is a standard fee paid by all residents
  • An income-tested fee, which varies depending on your income and assets
  • Accommodation payment, an amount for the room depending on its quality, location and features

The accommodation payment is the biggest cost and can be paid as a:

  • Refundable upfront lump sum payment known as the Refundable accommodation deposit (RAD) 
  • Daily amount – known as the Daily Accommodation Charge (DAC)
  • A combination of the above

Typically, families considering aged care for their loved one will be faced with many decisions in relation to funding the costs. Will they need to sell a property? Will they need bridging finance in the meantime? Should they get financial advice before making these big decisions? Do they have the legal authority to make these decisions on behalf of their loved one? 

In seventy per cent of cases, families choose to fund the accommodation deposit by selling the family home. For this reason, it is always advised that you seek professional financial advice when it comes to making these decisions to find what is right for you and your family.

5. Services and facilities

When you have the conversation with your parent or loved one about moving into an aged care home, it is worthwhile understanding which aspects of their lifestyle are important so you can prioritise these factors when choosing the home.

Maybe your mum, dad or loved one enjoys arts and crafts or gardening? Perhaps they would like to take their pet? Maybe they would like to have their spiritual or religious preferences prioritised? Perhaps they have special care needs? You might want to ensure that the aged care home you’re considering has all the things that they love to keep them entertained and enjoying their new lifestyle. 

6. Room type and privacy

There are many different types of rooms available in aged care homes, such as a shared room, single room or a private suite. Have a chat with your loved one about what would make them feel most comfortable. 

Most aged care rooms are already fitted with beds, chairs, wardrobes, curtains and carpet, but it is common to have space available for a favourite chair, small table, dresser and bedside light. Some may like to personalise their room with photographs, books and other treasured items. In most cases, residents bring their own TV, radio and other electronic devices which they can enjoy at their leisure. 

7. Specific care needs

Does your loved one require cognitive or physical care for conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s or arthritis? This will be an important factor for you in choosing the home and could be one of the top items on your list when you begin your search. 

8. Room availability 

If there’s a health issue, the transition to aged care can happen quite quickly, so knowing where there are available rooms will become critical in your decision making. If you’ve got a few months to make your decision, you may be more likely to find a home that ticks off all the boxes for you and your loved one.

9. Powers of Attorney and Guardianship

If your loved one decides to appoint a financial decision-maker, they can complete a legal form called a Power of Attorney. They can decide what powers they give to the appointed person when it comes to managing their property and financial affairs.

They may also wish to consider formal Guardianship so that decisions about your loved one’s health, welfare and lifestyle can be made on their behalf. The guardian, who could be a family member or a friend, is a substitute decision-maker and can give their consent to medical, dental and health care services. The rules on guardians are different in every state and territory, so you will need to find out the details based on your location.

10. Wills and estate planning

Moving into aged care can sometimes be quite a fast process, and it’s a good idea for your loved one to have their will up-to-date before entering an aged care home.

A will states what will happen to an estate and assets in the event of death which forms part, but not all, of an estate plan and covers things like:

  • How assets will be shared?
  • Who will look after young children?
  • Trusts 
  • Money to go to charities
  • Funeral plans

Summary

Transitioning a relative into aged care is often an emotional and overwhelming time for the whole family. The standards of aged care homes vary significantly making it difficult to know which one will be the right fit. Sometimes, there is very little time to consider your options and feel informed to make decisions confidently.

Care360 helps make the process that little bit easier by arming you with independent information to shortlist aged care homes quickly and easily online – delivered to your inbox in less than 10 minutes. 

We have independently reviewed over 2,500 homes and 207,000 rooms across Australia, considering essential factors like cost, payment options, service, meals, accommodation, treatment, care and lifestyle options.

Based on the information you provide; we can then compare the needs and wishes of your loved ones with our reviews to determine up to 10 of the best matched aged care homes. These matches are packaged into a 25-page Quality of Care report. Find out more about finding the right aged care home for your loved one here.

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